Is public transportation a cesspool of disease? :)

Okay, so I mentioned before I got a new job. Well, it looks like I’ll be needing to take public transportation (from neighboring suburb/town to a major city) for the first time to that job, either in bus or in light rail type train.

As you might’ve guessed from my H1N1 thread, it’s brought up some thoughts about health. Namely, I’ve always thought public transportation to be rolling hotboxes of disease, full of openly coughing and sneezing people who should be home, but are dragging themselves to work, thus infecting everyone around them. I’ve got visions of getting swine flu in my first week of riding the bus/rails (I chickened out yesterday; plus, it doesn’t take effect for two weeks anyway, and my job starts Wednesday).

What are your experiences in this arena like?

I don’t drive, so I take public transit everywhere. I’ve never noticed that I am any more likely to get colds or flu than anyone else I know.

Are your workplaces full of coughing and sneezing people who should be at home?

I have commuted by subway, and by car. No difference in severity/frequency of colds or illnesses. You’re exposed to the same germs in your office, or any time you’re in a public place – supermarket, drug store, etc.

Look at it this way: if you survive, you’ll be that much stronger.


But seriously, if there was that much danger, it’d be a public health issue, which it isn’t. So don’t worry.

Just don’t, you know, lick the floors or anything.

Always good advice, really. :wink:

Or the other passengers.

They HATE that.

They’re all like “Ew, you’ll get my germs!” and whatever.

I take public transport during the winter, when coughs, flus, etc are most common and don’t get sick more than others. I do use a hand sanitizer after I get off, though, as the poles and other surfaces get touched by a lot of different people.

I can’t speak for your commute, but I know that my bus commute is MUCH less stressful than driving as I can listen to a podcast or read during my commute and leave the driving to others. Stress causes a lot of disease.

You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

If you use public transportation wash your hands frequently/thoroughly, especially before eating. When I took the train to work every day I wash my hands when I got to the office and when I got home from commuting. Other than that, no special precautions (I was doing this long before hand sanitizers became ubiquitous). Buses and trains are no worse than any other public space - and no better.

You’ve obviously never been to Filene’s Basement.

Yeah, I can’t see how being on a bus or trail or whatever is any different from being in a grocery store. You still get a cross-segment of humanity - everybody’s gotta eat - so you still get a few people coughing, sneezing, touching surfaces that you then touch, etc. (Then you get the majority of people, who are hearty and healthy just like you, and everything’s fine, and then everyone goes home.)

So, Leaper, do you consider your corner market or grocery store to be a cesspool of disease? A (non-rolling!) hotbox of disease?

eh - wash your hands, and enjoy not having to drive. I’ve ridden public transit alot, and other than having to deal with missed schedules, etc… it is much better for commuting than driving, if the bus/rail is close to home/work. I had to walk/bike 1 mi. to the bus from home and then walk/bike 1 mi. from bus to work, 4 mi. ea. day, OK in good weather, the pits in bad weather.

but the ride on the bus was really relaxing - listening to podcasts, the radio, watching short vids on my phone, etc…

Pretty much most common diseases aren’t particularly easy to spread through the air; the go from a sick person’s body to some surface to your hand to the inside of your body. It’s possible to go the body -> air -> body route, but not terribly likely. So if you can keep your fingers out of your bodily orifices until you’ve had time post-commute to wash your hands, you’ll be fine.

If you can’t keep your fingers out of all of your bodily orifices until then, then I recommend a different manner of commuting (and a good psychiatrist).

It won’t be a problem to you, you can just ask the mods to take the “a” out of your SDMB user name.

Well, sort of. The reason I always assumed this is that a bus or train is a much smaller and more enclosed space than, say, a store, which is bigger and has better ventilation. I thought of a bus as like an airplane: the space is small and enclosed, people are very close to each other, and the air is either circulated in on itself or isn’t at all, thus letting the H1N1-filled coughs and sneezes spread to everyone.

Where is my logic going wrong? Why isn’t a bus like an airplane in that regard? Is it just a function of time spent?

Buses and trains don’t recycle the same disease-ridden air for five hours.

Well, they do (at least in the winter, when no windows are open) - it’s just that no one (except the driver) is actually riding that bus for five full hours. :slight_smile:

I’ve found that I get more sick at work (where I’m around kids who don’t cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze) than on the bus. Everyone mostly keeps to themselves, I’ve found.